Eat well - travel often

Somerset: The Retreat – Resetting My Creativity

As part of my blogging journey I sometimes have the opportunity to attend events designed to improve my knowledge of the process of blogging. Occasionally, such as a recent weekend, the venue requires a stay away from home for one night or two. FleaEnterprises put on an event called The Retreat based in the Somerset countryside at Croydon Hall near Minehead.

Croydon Hall Somerset

Upon arrival at Croydon Hall we settled in before a group relaxation/simple yoga session out on the lawn in the lovely late afternoon sunshine (unusual for the UK).

Croydon Hall Somerset

We had pre-selected the group masterclasses we wanted to take over the weekend and the first hurdle being that there were so many I wanted to do but only one weekend to do them all in! From the workshops on offer here is what I attended:-

Friday evening was a Golden Hour Photography session.  Tom, a professional photographer, took the group outside pointing out the different types of light available at that time of evening and encouraging us to walk around and take some photos.   I initially considered doing the sunrise session at 05:30 Saturday morning with Tom however my need for sleep took over the authority and I stayed in my comfy warm bed!

Croydon Hall Somerset

My first session after breakfast was Creating Short Travel Stories on Video with Alistair Campbell of Somerset Film. The aim was to have a quick indoor session then head outside to practice our video skills.  Alistair had a range of camera gadgets on the table when we arrived which took everyone’s attention and the session was mostly us asking questions about the equipment.  We then headed out into the unseasonably warm day to try out the equipment and see how individual items would help us with our video taking.

I really liked the hand-held gimble for iPhones, making taking a video on your phone a smooth operation without the shaking and moving that usually occurs.  My husband had a birthday coming up the following week so I decided to order him the gimble for his birthday present knowing he would be happy to share it with me!!

Alistair’s main tip was: CREATE YOUR OWN STYLE and GET MOVING! I plan to put loads of his other tips into practice as well.

Croydon Hall Somerset

After lunch I attended the Filming a Recipe Video session led by Dan Atkins. The station was set up to film a two tone cocktail. After watching the original film of the cocktail creation we set about as a group to recreate the film. Dan was very patient answering all of our questions as we went along and offered loads of insider tips on turning our home videos into top quality.

After lunch it was Confidence on Camera with Darren Simons of Aspire Presenting. After a very animated and funny introduction we all felt comfortable enough to do a short piece to camera.

Croydon Hall Somerset

The atmosphere of the group deteriorated into hysteria after one of the girls recognised Sean (one of the presenters) from over twenty years ago appearing at Butlins Minehead!! Any dignity left the room when due to the heat of the day Sally (the organiser of our weekend) brought in ice lollies!

Our dinner on Saturday was a catered, sit down meal and everyone tried to sit near new friends and others who hadn’t yet become ones. Off to bed to ensure I was ready for the rest of the event in the morning.

Croydon Hall Somerset

After breakfast Sunday morning I went to the session called Portraits that Tell a Story with Sarah Mason from Sarah Mason Photography and her partner Suzi. I am fairly new to DSLR photography and have been concentrating on food photography – the thought of portraits had never really crossed my mind.  Sarah and Suzi helped allay my fears with beautiful examples of their work and armed with plenty of support and encouragement I tried taking portrait photos of my fellow classmates.

Croydon Hall Somerset

I was really, really surprised with the results. I had taken a portrait photo!!! The feeling of achievement was immense! I went home full of excitement for my new found skill!

Croydon Hall Somerset

Finishing off with a Positivity Workshop we then headed home, exhausted from all the learning, coffee drinking, cake eating and new friends.

Croydon Hall Somerset

Sitting on the train back to London my head was swimming with all the new gadgets I want to buy, how to take those stunning portraits, start videoing my recipes and editing them and of course trying to be more confident on camera.  No wonder I was exhausted by the time I reached home!

After learning so much on this weekend I am thrilled to hear that The Retreat is planned for next year!! What fantastic workshops will there be for all of us to enhance our skills!

Thanks to all the staff of Tots100 for organising The Retreat and keeping us fed and watered. I was not required to write a positive review. As usual all opinions and photographs are my own. No photographs may be reproduced in any form without my written permission.

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